- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2017

President Trump is getting a grass-roots boost for his tax reform plan in the Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia.

Linwood Holland, a community organizer and chairman of the Philadelphia Black Republican Ward Leaders Caucus, is spreading the word to minority groups that the Trump tax plan is good for the working class.

“I’ve already been to the Asian community and spoke to them, and I’ve explained it to groups in my area,” said Mr. Holland, 57, who attended the president’s speech on tax reform Wednesday at the Harrisburg Air National Guard Base.

“On a grass-roots level we are doing a good job putting the message out already,” he said. “Hopefully by people seeing the speech and understanding that it will help them, it makes it that much easier for us to promote it.”

Mr. Holland, a father of four with an annual household income of about $65,000, echoed the president’s pitch. He has been telling Philadelphia residents — especially those that he says live paycheck to paycheck — that middle-class tax cuts leave more money in workers’ pockets and business tax cuts mean more jobs and higher wages.

His efforts advance a White House strategy to put pressure on Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania to cross the aisle to support the plan. He’s one of several Senate Democrats up for re-election in states that Mr. Trump won in November.

Mr. Trump hopes to win over a few Democrats to pad the Republican’s thin majority in the Senate, thereby avoiding the types of repeated failures he experienced trying to repeal Obamacare.

“We’re going to fight, and we’re going to get those Republicans and maybe a few of those Democrats to raise their hand,” Mr. Trump said at the Air National Guard base. “And you’re going to have so much money to spend in this wonderful country and this great economy.”

Mr. Casey has resisted the pressure, confident that the president’s coalition won’t hold in the traditionally Democratic-leaning state.

Mr. Casey responded to Mr. Trump’s speech, which focused on the benefits for workers and middle-class families, by condemning the plan as a “massive tax giveaway to the superrich at the expense of the middle class.”

“Under this plan, middle-class families in Pennsylvania may see their taxes go up through the elimination of deductions, while the wealthiest will get an annual $146,400 windfall,” Mr. Casey said in a statement.

Mr. Holland pushed back against the Democrat’s chief criticism that too much benefit goes to the wealthy, arguing that everyone deserves a tax break.

“It’s your money. I don’t think you should be penalized because you made a decision to make good money for yourself and your family,” he said. “If you make a tax break for the rich and not the poor, or the poor and not the rich, I don’t believe that is fair. I think it should be across the board for everybody to get a tax break.”

The White House invited Mr. Holland to the speech Wednesday.

In an early draft of the speech, Mr. Trump called out Mr. Holland as an example of how the tax reform proposal will benefit the middle class. The reference was edited out of the final version.

Mr. Holland said he wasn’t disappointed.

“I was informed that it was a possibility that it would not be in the speech,” he said. “Knowing that, I was not surprised that it wasn’t.”

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